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Ephrata OKs code change for new jail to be built

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | June 7, 2021 1:00 AM

EPHRATA — The Ephrata City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to change the city’s zoning code and allow for a jail to be built at the Port of Ephrata.

According to Community Development Director Dan Leavitt, the change would add “correctional facility” to the list of allowed land uses at the port, which is currently zoned industrial.

The council passed the measure after the Grant County commissioners proposed a site for the county’s new jail right next to the county’s work release facility on East Division Avenue on Port of Ephrata property. The proposed site is one of two the county is looking to build a new jail, which will be funded by proceeds from a three-tenths of 1% sales tax approved by county voters in 2019.

Leavitt told council members, however, that a new jail would be a “conditional use” that would require a public hearing before any plans could be approved.

“Something of this magnitude, it’s important for the public to participate,” he said.

Council member Matt Moore wanted to know if the county had a design plan “in place” for the new facility and if it would also include new courtrooms as well.

“Not that I know of,” Leavitt said. “It may be that they have made that decision.”